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THE government and private sector have forged an agreement to promote road safety along the country’s major thoroughfares.

The Philippine Global Road Safety Partnership (PGRSP), a non-stock, non-profit organization composed of different associations such as the Automobile Association of the Philippines, Car Manufacturers of the Philippines Inc, Ford Philippines, Independent Philippine Petroleum Companies Association, Motorcycle Development Program Participants Association, Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company, Pilipinas Shell and the Tollways Association, inked the agreement with the Department of Transportation and Communication, the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Department of Health late last week.

“The consequence of road accidents—mounting medical costs, wasted resources and time, unfortunate loss of lives and limbs, useless property damage and incalculable pain grief and suffering for the victims and their families simply—are just too enormous to be ignored,” Transportation and Communications undersecretary and Land Transportation Office head Anneli Lontoc said.

“The national cost of traffic accidents for the Philippines is estimated at $1.9 billion or P105.3 billion, or roughly 2.8% of the country’s gross domestic product,” Lontoc added.

Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board chairman Alberto Suansing, for his part, said most road accidents involve trucks, followed by buses, jeepneys and taxis.

“Many of the trucks are dilapidated. In a study made three years ago, about 60% of 250,000 units are above 10 years old,” Suansing said.

“The road network entails engineering — that’s where we come in — education and enforcement. This road safety partnership is the first in Asia. We will make lives less miserable. If we have good engineering requirement, educated drivers, then we have nothing to enforce,” Public Works Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane said.

PGRSP member firms have donated P1 million each or a total of P9 million for the program which entails an information drive and advocacy work.

Latest data showed that road accidents rose 28.3% last year to 14,794 from 11,532 in 2007, excluding unreported road accidents. If included, the figure could be nine times higher than the actual.

In the first half of the year, 624 people died in road accidents, already surpassing last year’s record of a total of 573.

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